Have you ever considered why you feel the need to look into the mirror? Take a closer look inside yourself, and remember you are more than your appearance.
BY: LIZ BRINKMAN, RD
How often do you notice yourself checking your body in the mirror?
I do that, too. But what exactly are we checking for?
We know that we are in this world. We don’t need a mirror to confirm this truth, and our senses work just fine.
We can smell the odors coming from our house: the pot of freshly brewed coffee and the scented candle at the kitchen sink.
Our vision is clear. We can see the thin layer of dust on the furniture and the stack of books that need to fit into backpacks.
Our sense of touch is fully functioning. Our fingers, brushing on our skin, can feel the rough spots that need lotion and the patch of hair we forgot to shave at our knee.
The taste buds on our tongues are fine-tuned to distinguish flavors. We can taste the orange juice, fresh-squeezed from the fruit in the side yard and the chocolate chip waffles with the real maple syrup.
Our ears capture sound waves, hearing the dog barking next door and the cartoon voices coming from the living room.
So why do we need a mirror? What is it really able to tell us that we don’t already know?
This inanimate object offers no judgment. It’s our mind that turns the reflected image into a weapon against us. Our mind believes our culture: that the shape of us determines how we fit into this world.
That the size of us defines our worth.
In a mirror, we see a colorful image, but we interpret its meaning as black and white, good or bad, worthy or unworthy, right or wrong, failure or success.
We might think to smash the mirror into pieces to match the fracturing we feel inside. That’s one option, but it would end in us having a mess on our hands and no real path forward.
Running away from the mirror and our image is another option. This might look like avoiding things like:
- Wearing clothes that reveal your flaws
- People who might comment on your appearance
- Being photographed
- Places where appearance is emphasized – school dances, holiday parties or formal occasions
Avoidance feels safe at first. But it eventually results in loneliness and isolation. What started out as a fix leads to a self-imposed prison.
Okay, so we aren’t going to go around smashing every mirror (cathartic but destructive), nor will we run and hide (fine at first, but life-limiting in the end).
So what can we do to change the story about our reflection and the relationship with our image? How can we look beyond the mirror and care for the form that lives and breathes in the real world? Here are 4 ideas for flipping the script on your body image.
1. Be loving and kind.
Refer to your body in a tender, loving, humanizing way: “My body is here for me, she’s doing her best.”
2. Recognize what your body does for you.
Write affirming messages on your mirrors that describe facts about your body and its function – free from critical judgment of physical appearance. Say something that could hold up in a court of law, such as: “My nose helps me smell. My neck supports my head.:
3. Limit your time in front of the mirror.
Spend a brief moment (<10 minutes) in front of the mirror getting ready for the day and then make a plan not to look at your appearance until you brush your teeth at bedtime.
If you have an urge to check your appearance as reassurance about your looks or a nagging mental what-if (such as: “What if my hair is out of place? What if my makeup is smudged?”). Stop. Notice the thoughts and urges. Accept that they occur. Let your consciousness move away and focus on other things.
4. Do something uniquely special.
Beyond the reflection in the mirror, do something special and purposeful to improve your relationship with your body. This can be something very basic like brushing your teeth twice a day, using a nail or cuticle clipper to remove your hangnail instead of biting or peeling it off, or rubbing lotion on your elbows.
Feeling bold? Try something out of the ordinary like having an impromptu dance party in the kitchen while unloading the dishwasher.
As always, please remember: there’s more to life than what you see in the mirror.
Adapted from the original post.
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Liz Brinkman, RD is a private practice dietitian who runs a Phoenix-based nutrition practice, through which she sees clients both locally and virtually. Specializing in Intuitive Eating and eating disorder recovery, Liz’s mission is to empower women to find healing and hope as they navigate the chaos of diet culture, and reconnect with the answers they already have within. When she’s not working, you can find Liz at her dining room table surrounded by family, neighbors and friends. Whether playing Uno, helping with homework, or sharing a meal, her hope is that people push back from the table feeling more restored, anchored, and accepted than when they sat down. Learn more and connect with Liz at Liz Brinkman Nutrition.